The Bull of Mentju
A Menmenet Novel
Ancient gods and modern armies clash in a riveting alternative-history thriller.
Cheryl MacIntyre loves her work on the Menmenet homicide squad. Then she’s fired—for being American. When she plunges into Ta’an-Imenty politics to get her job back, she finds only an endless well of corruption.
Shesmu za-Akhen, her lover, can’t help her because he gets a frantic call from the mountains of Washeshu, the small country to the east—his foster father has vanished. The quest to find him takes Shesmu deep into a world of indigenous spirituality that compels him to confront his personal demons.
Tahefnu, a young Miwuk woman, lives in an idyllic mountain valley south of Washeshu but questions her future. She undertakes to guide Shesmu in his search for his Coyote-spirit father but loses her own Hummingbird spirit when she confronts the Remetjy gods. When a Spetsnaz team from Russkaya Amerika captures the pair, Shesmu must abandon his quest to save Tahefnu’s life and his own.
Furious at Shesmu for deserting her in her time of trial, MacIntyre goes it alone at the Temple of Mentju while Shesmu and Tahefnu hike through the valley of the dead. As MacIntyre rises through the ranks of Mentju, she uncovers a shadowy plot at the highest levels of the state. NATO countries to the east plan to invade the republic with the help of the plotters. Discovered, she flees for her life and joins the Remetjy Republican Guard in the mountains to fight for her adopted country.
MacIntyre, Shesmu, and Tahefnu join forces. But with a powerful army poised to invade and the gods against them, their future looks bleak—and short—unless they can get the gods on their side.
Set in a North America divided between the North American Treaty Organization of the United States, Numunuu, and the Plains Federation and the Ta’an-Imenty Republic colonized by the Egyptians, the third novel in the Menmenet trilogy of alternate history thrillers confronts MacIntyre and Shesmu with political conspiracy, war, genocide, and their own demons in a world dominated as much by the gods as by men.
I tried to get up and found I couldn’t move at all, not even my head, but I could move my useless eyes. I just stared into the darkness. I felt very cold. I felt as though something was just outside my peripheral vision, and if I concentrated, it felt like the goddess Ma’at, I could glimpse her erect posture and white dress and the feather atop her head. Ma’at was remote, distant in an emotional way. She ignored me. I stretched my eyeballs back and forth to try to catch a real glimpse, and I thought bizarrely that Ma’at had a body and hair of gold. Then a Miwuk man strode into my sight out of the darkness, right in front of me.
For a moment, I thought it was Heh, the shaman, because the man wore a feather headband and apron, but I could see the coppery face was different, though familiar. Then I saw the man dressed in a Remetjy shendyt, the linen kilt all Remetjy men wore on formal occasions, but bare chested with his skin and his face green, the green of the dead, no longer coppery brown. He held a w’as-scepter, the staff of power of a god, in his right hand, as in all the old pictures, and I saw it was Heh’s walking stick. Then I saw the man had the head of a coyote. It was very strange: I still saw the Miwuk regalia, but I saw the Remetjy at the same time, and I saw the human head and the animal head at the same time. They weren’t switching back and forth or anything, I just saw them at the same time on the same man.
“Shesmu.” The man spoke my name, though his mouth never moved. It was a normal voice, just conversational in tone. “Son.” My heart exploded with the emotions of the five-year-old child I had been. I have no memory of my father’s face, how he stood, how he acted. My heart told me that this was indeed my father. Miwuk, Remetjy, Coyote—where was the reality of it? What was I really seeing?
Behind the Coyote appeared an incredible valley, like Heh’s valley of Hetchetci but much grander, cliffs rising to the sky, waterfalls dashing down from great heights to the valley floor. I didn’t actually see this place, I felt it. I felt Coyote’s presence in it. Coyote said, “Come.” My heart said go to him, my feet would not move. I had to choose which was right, my heart or my immobile body. Coyote said, “Learn. Atone. Come.”
I said, “Akhen, father” without moving my mouth. The Miwuk man looked up at me, growing smaller.
“Danger. Watch where you tread, and who treads with you,” he said.